Roads linking Al Aqaba village to its neighbors in Jordan Valley are again destroyed

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and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land and property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement

Settlers take over homes in heart of Arab neighborhood
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 18 Apr — Jewish settlers succeeded Wednesday in taking over two homes in the all-Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina after police evicted Palestinian families living in the homes. Khaled Natsheh, owner of one of the homes, said police came in the morning to his house and ordered him and his 10-member family to leave. He was handcuffed and taken to the police station while the police emptied the house of its furniture, put it in a truck and took it away … Natsheh believes the settlers are going to build a housing project for themselves in that area, making it the first Jewish enclave in the heart of what so far has been an exclusive Arab neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem.

UN envoy condemns Israel’s eviction of Palestinian family
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — A senior UN official on Wednesday condemned Israel’s eviction of Palestinians from homes in Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem. “Evictions of Palestinians from their homes and properties in occupied territory contravene international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, and should cease,” said UN humanitarian coordinator Maxwell Gaylard in a statement.

Israel builds graves in East Jerusalem neighborhood
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 18 Apr – The committee for the defense of Silwan Wednesday uncovered the building of Jewish graves in Wadi Rababa area of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. A committee statement said Israeli bulldozers razed Palestinian land and built graves, which residents believe to be fake, in order to justify takeover of the Palestinian-owned land.  Israel claims that Silwan, which is just outside Jerusalem’s Old City wall and falls right below the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the Jewish Quarter, is the site of the ancient City of David.

Israel bans Islamic figure entry to Al-Aqsa
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 18 Apr — Israeli authorities issued an order banning former Mufti of Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque preacher, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, entry into al-Haram al-Sharif compound in the Old City of Jerusalem,  which houses Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, Sabri said on Wednesday. He slammed the Israeli decision and described it as “arbitrary and illegal” and a violation of freedom of religion. The decision interferes in Muslim affairs and challenges the jurisdiction of the the Islamic Waqf, said Sabri, adding that military control does not grant the Israeli occupation rights in al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.

Israel bars Sheikh Raed from entering Jerusalem on return from London
UM ELFAHAM (PIC) 17 Apr — The Israeli authorities handed Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic movement in 1948 occupied Palestine, an order banning him from visiting Jerusalem for one month. A spokesman for the Arab organization for human rights told Quds Press on Tuesday that the decision was illegal.

Egypt’s mufti visits Jerusalem for first time
CAIRO (Reuters) 18 Apr — The grand mufti, one of Egypt’s highest religious authorities, said he had visited Jerusalem on Wednesday for the first time, angering Islamist groups opposed to any step that might be viewed as recognizing Israeli control of the city. Mufti Ali Gomaa said on his Twitter account that he had visited Jerusalem, entering from the West Bank via Jordan and not from the Israeli side. He said he prayed in the al-Aqsa mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, in the walled old city … On Twitter, Gomaa said it was an “unofficial visit” to the mosque.

Warehouses raided, equipment confiscated near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 18 Apr — Israeli forces Wednesday stormed the village of Hosan, west of Bethlehem, raided three warehouses and confiscated equipment claiming they were built in area C, which falls under full Israeli control, according to a local official. Head of Hosan village council said that Israeli forces stormed the village at dawn, raided three warehouses used for auto repair and storing building supplies that belong to Mohammad Sabateen … Forces also handed Sabateen a notice to appear before the Israeli army civil administration.

Settlers chop down 250 olive trees near Ramallah
IMEMC 17 Apr — Israeli settlers chopped down 250 Palestinian owned olive trees on Tuesday, belonging to residents of Betello village northwest of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. Orchard owner Fawzi Dar Bazar discovered that his olive trees had been chopped down and destroyed when he and his family went to their orchard on Tuesday. He added that this was not the first time his orchard and several others belonging to other residents of his village had been attacked.
Last month, Israeli settlers chopped down at least 1,576 olive trees across the West Bank

Israel police establishes unit to enforce demolition of Bedouin homes
Haaretz 17 Apr — Israel Police is establishing a new unit to enforce demolition and evacuation orders served to scattered Bedouin villages in southern Israel, in order to deal with “trespassing into state lands.” The unit, which will be made up of 200 police officers, will be established in cooperation with the Prime Minister’s Office to enforce Israeli land laws in the Negev.

Soldiers demolish Bedouin camp near Jerusalem
IMEMC 18 Apr — Israeli military bulldozers demolished several sheds and tents belonging to the Al-Jahalin Bedouin tribe, north west of Jerusalem on Wednesday. Eyewitnesses reported that the army demolished 13 sheds and tents leaving several families without shelter, and without barns for their livestock.

Israeli army demolish houses and wells in Kufr al-Dik
ISM 17 Apr — Early Monday morning the IOF came to Kufr ad-Dik and demolished three houses and three water wells, along with several tents belonging to Bedouin families nearby. Settlements Bruchin, Alei Zahav, and Pedu’el are expanding quickly, claiming more and more Palestinian land and making life for the people of Kufr ad-Dik impossible … The Bedouin families had all of their five tents demolished at the same time. They asked the soldiers to spare one tent so that the children at least had somewhere to shelter, but the soldiers showed no mercy, adding that they would be back in one week and if the families had not left the land they would be arrested. “I have over 600 sheep, there’s no place except here where I can live and support myself and my family,” Mohammad, one of the shepherds, explained.

Israeli forces destroy roads, retaining walls near Tubas
TUBAS (WAFA) 18 Apr – Israeli forces Wednesday destroyed two roads and a number of retaining walls in al-Aqaba, a village east of Tubas governorate, according to a local official. Head of al-Aqaba village council Sami Sadeq said Israeli bulldozers destroyed two roads connecting the village to Tubas and the Jordan Valley. He said that the roads were previously destroyed by the Israelis but were later rebuilt by Palestinians.

IDF will go on keeping the Jordan Valley Palestinian-free / Amira Hass
Haaretz 18 Apr — The only excessive stupidity of which deputy brigade commander Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner can be accused is hitting a young blond man in front of a camera. Other commanders and their subordinates will learn the lesson. They’ll check for any subversive cameras before going on to do what is unexceptional in the Wild East. They will beat up Palestinians, in the main, as well as anti-occupation activists – by rifle butt, by boot or simply by fist. Soldiers who beat up Palestinians are not generally filmed, and the (few) written reports that exist are easily dismissed as lies and propaganda, are forgotten immediately or merely go unread.

Violence / Incursions

Israeli soldiers ‘shoot, injure farmer’ in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Israeli soldiers shot and injured a Palestinian farmer on Tuesday in the southern Gaza Strip, witnesses said. Forces opened fire from an army watchtower toward fields in Khuza‘a, east of Khan Younis, hitting Hasan Shenyo in the leg as he worked on his land, witnesses told Ma‘an. Shenyo was taken to the European Hospital in Khan Younis with moderate injuries.

Woman ‘shot by Israeli fire’ near Khan Younis
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — A Palestinian woman was shot and injured by Israeli fire in the southern Gaza Strip Wednesday morning, medical officials said.  27-year-old Rinad Qudeih was hit by a gunshot to the head when Israeli soldiers stationed in military towers opened fire near the southern Gaza Strip. Qudeih was working in her family’s field when she sustained a superficial wound in the head, witnesses said. She was evacuated to the military hospital in Abasan village east of Khan Younis.

Israel detains farmer in Iraq Burin
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Israeli forces on Wednesday detained a Palestinian farmer south of Nablus after beating him, witnesses said. Saad Hussam Ahed Faqih, 25, from ‘Iraq Burin, was assaulted as forces made the arrest, the onlookers said.  He was taken to Bracha settlement, they said.

Israeli soldiers, settlers storm Hebron homes
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Israeli forces ransacked several homes in the southern West Bank Tuesday evening, while settlers attacked a young man near the Israeli settlement Kiryat Arba. Abdul-Aleem al-Jaabari told Ma’‘an that Israeli forces surrounded several homes in the al-Jabari neighborhood and fired stun grenades and tear gas. Al-Jaabari, who heads the Palestinian Wrestling Federation, said Israeli soldiers assaulted his sons and the sons of his neighbor Zeidan al-Jaabari.
Separately, a group of settlers escorted by soldiers violently attacked a young Palestinian man, Marwan Farahat Burqan, near Kiryat Arba, witnesses said.

Israelis visit tombs in West Bank village
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Thousands of Jewish worshipers on Wednesday entered the West Bank village of Kifl Haris escorted by Israeli soldiers, locals said. Forces erected checkpoints and occupied the roofs of several homes in the village, witnesses told Ma‘an. Religious sites sacred to Jews and Muslims are located in Kifl Haris.
Soldiers detained Jalal Mahmoud Abu Yakob, 34, from his shop near the religious sites, locals said.

Undercover IDF soldier kills Palestinian in drill, goes unpunished / Yossi Gurvitz
972mag 18 Apr — Two weeks ago, undercover IDF soldiers carrying out a drill in a Palestinian village in the West Bank killed a resident after several mistook them for burglars and attacked them. Israeli press buried the real story: The fact that the IDF used Palestinians as drill props – and killed one. Ynet sure knows how to bury the lead: They report that a Duvdevan Unit soldier was dismissed from his unit after kicking the face of a handcuffed Palestinian two weeks ago. Such a dismissal, were it attended by several months in prison, would indeed be a proper punishment; but this is not the important story. How did the Palestinian find himself in handcuffs in the first place?

Zionist version of above story:
Soldier dismissed after kicking bound Palestinian
Ynet 18 Apr — IDF relieves from duty Duvdevan soldier after he kicks in the face a Palestinian man who assaulted his unit during undercover exercise,7340,L-4217835,00.html

Cyclists attacked by soldier in the Jordan Valley seek legal action
ISM 17 Apr — ..Andreas, Mira, Alex, and the Palestinian man are working with attorney Meissa Irshaid from the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel to ensure that the testimony of these bike tour participants is represented in the assault case against Lt.-Col Eisner. “Israeli soldiers blocked the road for all of the cyclists and quickly resorted to violent force to intimidate us from cycling on Route 90. Lt-Col Eisner beat me with his M-16 without provocation,” Andreas stated. Mira was also struck in the face by Eisner’s gun. The two were evacuated to hospital and Andreas received stitches in his lip.

IDF officer says regrets beating activist ‘in front of cameras’
Haaretz 17 Apr — IDF Lt. Col. Shaul Eisner, who was filmed over the weekend hitting a Danish protester with his rifle butt in the Jordan Valley, personally responded to allegations against him on Tuesday. Eisner, who was suspended from duties following the incident, said that “it could have been a professional mistake to use a weapon in front of the cameras,” he told Channel 10.

IDF document: Avoid media provocations
Ynet 17 Apr –  “Remember it takes only 10 seconds out of hours of video footage to cause irreparable damage to the image of the soldiers, the army and the State,” an instruction page distributed by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit to soldiers serving in Judea and Samaria read.  The instruction page, which was obtained by Ynet, urges officers to remember that “the media, and especially the foreign press, is looking for strong images, even provocative, and therefore we must refrain from creating such images unnecessarily.,7340,L-4217252,00.html

IDF officer who hit Danish protester unlikely to be dismissed, precedents indicate
Haaretz 17 Apr — …Very few of the investigations into alleged acts of gratuitous violence by Israel Defense Forces soldiers against Palestinians or protesters in the West Bank have resulted in criminal prosecution or discharge from the army, even when the incidents were filmed and generated a public outcry. Human rights organizations say this proves that although the military establishment condemns such violence when it occurs, it does not prosecute perpetrators to the full extent of the law. Military defense attorneys believe that Eisner will get off with a reprimand, given the sequence of events as he describes it.

Surprise! But for how long?
IDF chief dismisses officer who hit Danish activist with rifle
Haaretz 18 Apr — IDF Lt. Col. Shaul Eisner, who was filmed over the weekend hitting a Danish protester with his rifle butt in the Jordan Valley, was dismissed from his position on Wednesday. IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz decided to dismiss Eisner, after the recommendations of GOC Central Command Nitzan Alon and Sami Turgeman, commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ ground forces, on the grounds that the attack was a “moral failure.”  Eisner, who was due to receive the rank of colonel, will be transferred to a senior staff position and will be barred from carrying out any command position in the IDF in the next two years. Starting 2014, Einser will be able to return to a command position, should he fulfill the necessary requirements.

My own private Lt. Colonel Shalom Eisner / Haggai Matar
972mag 18 Apr — Nearly three years ago I also met a Shalom Eisner at a demonstration. He gashed my head with his blows for no reason. Then too, like this week, a camera was filming as an IDF officer beat me up. To this day, my own private Shalom Eisner is running free. Of course, mine is not the Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, deputy commander of the Jordan Valley brigade who rammed his rifle in face of Danish activist on Sunday. The person who sent me to the hospital with his blows was another soldier, in reserve service, whose name I still do not know to this day. It was a generic Shalom Eisner, a Shalom Eisner like any other soldier of the occupation who ever attacked, shot, broke, beat, arrested, kicked, twisted, detained, tortured, step on, sprayed or humiliated unarmed civilians.

Israeli celebrity says she enjoyed video of IDF attacking Danish activist because he looked like a Nazi / Dena Shunra
Mondo 18 Apr — Author and talk-show celebrity Irit Linur explained how pleased she was to see the Israeli officer slam the butt of his rifle into the face of the (unarmed, nonviolent) Danish peace activist. She said his golden hair made him look like a member of the Hitlerjugend, and said about him and other activists: “they were born anti-Semites and will die anti-Semites” – a shameful slander, especially considering what the Danes, whose underground was granted a blanket designation as Righteous Among the Nations for their efforts during World War II to rescue the Danish Jews.

Hunger strikers

Israel frees Khader Adnan
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Israeli authorities released former hunger-striking administrative detainee Khader Adnan late Tuesday, a Ma‘an correspondent reported. Adnan arrived at his home in Araba in the northern West Bank to meet his family before returning to a tent reception where he spoke to well-wishers and officials in the village. Hundreds of Palestinians chanted slogans in solidarity with prisoners as they welcomed the former detainee, whose 66-day hunger strike inspired others to protest administrative detention.

Official: Record administrative detainee freed
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Israel on Wednesday released a Palestinian who had been imprisoned over his lifetime for 12 years, the head of the Prisoners’ Society said. Qadura Fares told Ma‘an that Ahmad Saqer spent 12 years in jail, and had been held in administrative detention since 2008. He had been on hunger strike for 22 days. Saqer’s father is in ill health and an Israeli court granted a petition to free him, Fares said.

Adnan: Crowd’s joy made me forget all suffering
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Apr  — “The happiness I saw on my peoples’ faces made me forget all the suffering I experienced when I was on hunger strike,” freed Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan said Wednesday.  When he arrived in Jenin, instead of going home, Adnan chose to head to the sit-in tent in Arraba village to meet with parents of prisoner Jaafar Izz Addin who is now on hunger strike protesting Israeli policies against prisoners. Hundreds of Palestinians gathered on Tuesday night to greet the former detainee, whose 66-day hunger strike inspired others to protest administrative detention.

Only hunger strikes get results: ex-Palestinian prisoner
AFP 17 Apr — Hunger striking is the only way for Palestinian prisoners to achieve their demands, said a former inmate who was freed by Israel and exiled to Gaza after refusing food for 43 days.

Halhale slips into a coma
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 17 Apr — Thaer Halahle, who is on hunger strike in Israeli detention, has gone in a coma, his father, Aziz, told Quds Press on Tuesday. He said that the health condition of his son greatly deteriorated over the past few hours after 50 days of hunger strike. Aziz explained that his son was suffering from fainting ever since Monday night in addition to non-stop bleeding from his mouth and nose.

Palestinian inmates launch ‘battle of empty stomachs’
RAMALLAH (Reuters) 17 Apr — At least 1,200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails launched an open-ended hunger strike on Tuesday, upping the stakes in a protest movement that has put Israel under pressure. Israel has already struck deals with two Palestinian detainees this year after they staged prolonged hunger strikes and 10 other inmates have been refusing to take food in an ad-hoc campaign that has gathered unexpected momentum. Hundreds more joined the so-called “battle of empty stomachs” on Tuesday to coincide with Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, when both the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip stage mass rallies in support of some 4,800 prisoners who are held in Israeli prisons.

Israel cracks down on hunger-striking prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — The PA Ministry of Detainee Affairs said Wednesday that Israel has tightened procedures against prisoners on a mass hunger-strike launched a day earlier. The ministry said in a statement that Israel’s prison administration put detainees in solitary confinement without electricity. Prisoners in Ashkelon jail said detainees were threatened with transfer to a new section, and banned family visits. Israeli Prison Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said 1,200 detainees were on continuous hunger strike, and all hunger-strikers have had privileges removed.

8 foreign activists join Palestinians’ hunger strike
Ynet 17 Apr — Female fly-in activists held in Givon Prison declare they will refuse food in solidarity with security prisoners,7340,L-4217115,00.html

Political detention

Video: Palestinians behind bars: prisoners without human rights
17 Apr — This short film was produced by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights to mark the annual Palestinian Prisoners Day of 2012. Includes interviews with ex-prisoners telling about violations of the Geneva Conventions, etc.

Report: 201 Palestinians [have] died in Israeli jails
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 17 Apr – Marking Prisoner Day, a joint press release by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Prisoners Affairs said Tuesday that a total of 201 Palestinian prisoners have died in Israeli jails since 1967. The prisoners died of torture, medical negligence, use of fatal force, premeditated killing and use of shooting, said the press release. Seven prisoners died in 2007, including five of medical negligence, making it the highest mortality rate among Palestinians in Israeli prisons in one year since 1967.
Around 2,000 Palestinians were arrested since the October prisoners’ exchange deal between Hamas and Israel, at an average of more than 10 arrests per day. The press release said Israel currently has around 4,700 Palestinians in prison, including six women, 185 minors and 27 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Israel placed over 20,000 Palestinians under administrative detention, without charge or trial, since 2002, of whom 320 prisoners remain in jail till this moment. n addition, there are 822 Palestinians who are in detention awaiting trial

Israeli forces detain 10 youth in Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Israeli forces detained at least 13 Palestinians in the West Bank overnight Tuesday, including a group of youth in a Nablus village, officials said. Ten youth were seized in the Burin village, south of Nablus, PA official Ghassan Daghlas said … An Israeli army spokeswoman said in addition to ten detained in Burin, Palestinians were seized in Ramallah-district village Budrus, and Hebron villages Beit Ula and al-Fuwwar.  Locals also said Husam Awawda, 23, and Ghassan Maalouni, 22, were detained in Nablus city.

Undercover soldiers nab two Palestinians in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (WAFA) 17 Apr — An undercover Israeli army unit Tuesday nabbed two Palestinians in Beit Ummar, a town north of Hebron, according to a local activist. Spokesman of the Popular Committee against Settlements and the Apartheid Wall Yousef Abu Maria said Israeli forces grabbed the two, Ahmad Abu Hashem, 22, and Mohammad Za’aqiq, 19, at the entrance of the town and took them away.

Israeli forces arrest three Palestinians in Qalqilya
QALQILYA (WAFA) 17 Apr — Israeli forces Tuesday arrested three Palestinians from Kufr Qaddoum, a village east of Qalqilya, according to local sources. One was arrested at an Israeli army checkpoint outside Qalqilya, and the other two, who were brothers, were arrested at another checkpoint outside the village. The Israeli army has been waging an arrest campaign against activists from the village who participate in the weekly protests in the village against Israel’s takeover of village land for the benefit of illegal area settlements.

Palestinians mark Prisoners Day in Gaza, West Bank
JENIN (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank marked Palestinian Prisoners Day on Tuesday with ceremonies symbolizing long-hoped-for freedom from Israeli jails.  In Arraba village, south of Jenin, officials gathered to mark the day ahead of the expected release of local Khader Adnan …  In Gaza City, Hana Shalabi — released after 43 days on hunger strike — lit a torch of freedom and applauded popular support for detainees challenging their imprisonment … Another torch was lit in Arraba to honor Karim Younis, the longest-serving prisoner, and Lina Jarbouni, the longest-serving female prisoner, as well as Adnan, in the presence of prisoners’ families. Officials unveiled a mural painted by four Palestinian artists at the entrance to the village.

Palestinian civil society and human rights organizations mark Palestinian Prisoners Day with call for action against Israeli prison contractor G4S
STW 17 Apr — …In particular, we call for action to be taken to hold to account G4S, the world’s largest international security corporation, which helps to maintain and profit from Israel’s prison system, for its complicity with Israeli violations of international law…

Abbas to seek implementing Geneva convention in Palestinian territory
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 17 Apr — President Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday said the Palestinian Authority will seek high contracting parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to demand implementing the convention in the Palestinian territory, especially regarding Palestinian prisoners. Abbas said on the occasion of the Palestinian Prisoner Day that PA will call for implementing the Geneva Convention on Palestinian prisoners so as to be treated as war prisoners with the entailing basic human rights, in accordance to the international law and resolutions.

PA cabinet urges pressure on Israel to free all prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — The Palestinian Authority cabinet called Tuesday upon the United Nations to mobilize immediately to exert serious pressure on Israel to release all Palestinian detainees. Ministers called particularly for Israel to free veteran prisoners, affirming in a statement that at the same time Israel should treat detainees according to international conventions and covenants by granting them their rights stipulated in those agreements.

PA wants UN fact-finding mission on prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Apr — Palestinian leaders called on the UN Tuesday to form an international fact-finding committee on prisoners and demanded the international committee take responsibility for the issue. Abdul Rahim Malouh, a member of the PLO executive committee, demanded that the UN send a fact-finding committee to examine “Israeli crimes against Palestinian prisoners.”

Gaza siege

Haneyya: Qatari fuel in Gaza within two days
Scoop 19 Apr — Gaza premier Ismail Haneyya has said that a shipment of Qatari fuel oil will arrive in Gaza Strip within the coming two days. He said in an interview with Aqsa TV on Tuesday night that the ship carrying Qatari fuel had docked at Suez Port on Tuesday night. The 35 million dollar shipment would be enough to run the Gaza power station for two months, the premier said. He said that Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa had promised to continue shipping fuel to Gaza, adding that the power crisis in Gaza would be solved in the event shipments from Qatar and other countries arrived and the agreement with “our Egyptian brothers” materialized.

Gaza doctor builds new life in Toronto
TThe photo leaning on Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish’s office window almost blocks the view of the Toronto skyline. It shows his three daughters, Mayar, Aya and Bessan Abuelaish, sitting on the beach in Gaza, writing their names in the sand. Closer to his desk, pinned to the wall, is the recent fourth-grade math test of Abuelaish’s youngest son, Abdullah, taken at his school in Toronto. The grade: A+.
Between the memories of the three daughters he lost to an Israeli shelling of his home in Gaza during the 2008-2009 conflict and his commitment to the family’s five remaining children, Abuelaish is trying to rebuild his life far away from Gaza. He says he seeks to make sense of the tragedy by devoting his life to promoting peace and nonviolence.

True friends visit Gaza even in its darkest hour
16 Apr by Sinead MacLochlainn , Chair of Derry Friends of Palestine: “As you stand on the balcony and look across the darkness, the most amazing fact will hit you, as you stand there in Gaza and look across the water, you can, within a matter of minutes see the entire desperate sad story of Palestine encapsulated into one glance across the ocean. Once, long ago, Jews, Christians and Muslims lived side by side in the land across the water, before Zionism took control of the Jewish religion and the region. For as I stood in the darkness on the balcony in Gaza and I cast my gaze across the water, I can see lights, millions and millions of lights twinkling in abundance. So what was once part of Palestine, it is lit up like a giant Christmas tree or Disney Land in the distance, welcoming the world to the now Jewish State as the people of Gaza suffer with candles in the darkness. This is the story of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, the occupiers and the occupied, the land stealers on one side, and on the other side in the darkness, those with the keys still in their hands.

Political news

Officials: Fayyad backs out of meeting with Netanyahu
RAMALLAH (Reuters) 17 Apr — A planned meeting Tuesday between the Israeli and Palestinian Authority prime ministers may be canceled or postponed after Salam Fayyad refused to attend, senior Palestinian officials said. Fayyad was reluctant to be seen as engaging with Israel on a day when more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began a hunger strike to protest against their conditions in Israeli jails, the officials said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office had released no details of a time or venue for what were to have been the highest-level talks with the Palestinians since peace negotiations broke off in 2010. But Israeli officials, asking for anonymity because no official announcement on the talks had been made, had said Monday that the meeting was to be held on Tuesday .

Erekat, PA intel chief meet Netanyahu
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and Palestinian intelligence chief Majed Faraj met Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday and handed over a letter on the peace process. The letter from President Mahmoud Abbas included references to the two-state solution on the 1967 borders, a settlement freeze and the release of Palestinians held since before the Oslo Accords, officials said. Netanyahu, who took the letter from Erekat, promised a written reply in two weeks … The West Bank-based prime minister, Salam Fayyad, did not attend the meeting.

Jordan’s king calls for urgency in Mideast
AFP 18 Apr — Brussels – Jordan’s King Abdullah II called for “a quantum leap forward” on Wednesday in efforts to strike an Israel-Palestinian peace deal, warning time was fast running out. “We cannot afford one more generation in waiting for a Palestinian state,” the Jordanian monarch said in a vibrant speech to the European parliament that drew repeated rounds of applause.
“There is no time to wait,” he said. “The Arab Spring is rooted in a profound call for human respect. No affront is felt more deeply than the Israeli occupation.”


Former Hamas official released by gunmen in Syria
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — A former senior Hamas official has been released from captivity in Syria, after being held for two days by unidentified gunmen, his Gaza-based family told Ma‘an …Hamas has moved its political office from Syria amid the deadly violence across the country. Liddawi, a former Hamas representative to Tehran, was deported from the Gaza Strip by Israel in 1991. The Palestinian community in Syria has not been spared the violent conflict as President Bashar Assad battles an uprising against his rule. Al-Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, has experienced a number of deadly incidents.

First Qana massacre on its 16th anniversary
IHH 18 Apr — On 18 April 1996, Israeli forces attacked a refugee camp in Qana in Lebanon which was under the protection of the United Nations. A total of 109 Palestinians, mostly women and children, lost their lives in the attack … Qana massacre took place upon orders from then Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres following a 16-day-long heavy Israeli aerial bombardment in Lebanon. Israel carried out 600 aerial strikes and used 23,000 cannonballs. More than 300,000 people were displaced due to the operation.
This incident is known as the 1st Qana massacre. Israel carried out another attack in the same village in July 2006 by striking a three-storey building, claiming the lives of more than 60 civilians 37 of whom were children.

UNRWA union to suspend work Sunday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Apr – The workers union of UNRWA announced Wednesday that it will suspend work next Sunday in protest of an investigation into the political affiliations of six employees. The union said in a statement that the administration continues to “spread fear” among its employees. They do not feel safe on a personal level nor do they have any sense of job security, the statement said.

Other news

Palestinian flag to fly in London Olympics, says official
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 18 Apr — British Consul General Vincent Finn Wednesday said that the Palestinian flag will fly alongside the flags of every other participating nation in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics games that will kick off in 100 days … He stressed that the Palestinian cause is one that resonates in the United Kingdom, especially at a time when people around the world focus on the principles of the Olympic Truce and the concept of non-violence … Finn also said that the UK is funding sports clothing for the Palestinian Olympic team and will be working with Palestinian sporting charities over the coming year to ensure that the legacy of London 2012 will be alive in Palestine.

‘Israel mass grave must exclude Palestinians’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — A group of relatives of Palestinians killed by Israel demanded Tuesday that the Israeli government exclude their remains from a state plan to bury unidentified remains … Palestinian relatives insisted that Israel follow through on its agreement with the Palestinian ministry of civil affairs in summer 2011 in which it agreed to release nearly 200 bodies of slain Palestinians. In a statement, the group condemned Israel’s “defiance of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions of 1949, in which Israel is obligated to return victims of war to their families.”

Israel’s Education Ministry disqualifies civics textbook
Haaretz 18 Apr — Under pressure from right, ministry bans book already in use in schools; authors of book say the ban is ‘political persecution’ by right-wing MKs … 1“It is very simple – the conflict in the ministry is between two approaches: To educate for nationalist-patriotic citizenship with a little bit of formal democracy, or to educate for a Jewish, pluralistic and democratic state,” said chairwoman of the Academic Forum for Civics Instruction, Dr. Ricki Tessler of Hebrew University...

Chilean oncologists treat Bethlehem children
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Apr — Chilean doctors are in Palestine to support the foundation of the first child cancer center, mission organizers said on Tuesday. The Chilean delegation of oncologists arrived in the West Bank two weeks ago to assist cancer treatment for children at a Beit Jala hospital, a statement said. Leading the group, pediatric surgery specialist Dr. Francisco Ossandón, said the doctors were exchanging best practice with their Palestinian colleagues, as well as performing oncology and urology surgeries … Chilean delegations will also work in Nablus and a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, the statement noted.


Supreme Court: Torture law applies only to people
Washington (Reuters) 18 Apr — The Palestinian Authority and PLO cannot be sued under a 1991 U.S. victim protection law over the alleged torture of an American in a West Bank prison, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, holding that the law only applies to individuals … The ruling involved a lawsuit against the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority by the widow and sons of a naturalized U.S. citizen, the Palestinian-born Azzam Rahim, who was raised in the West Bank. The lawsuit alleged he was tortured and killed in 1995 at a prison in Jericho while in the custody of Palestinian intelligence officers. The PLO has denied the allegations.,0,5233756.story

Jews cast wary eye on evangelicals
Washington (The Forward) 16 Apr –Poll Finds Suspicion of Christian Right, Even Israel Supporters — Advocates for improved relations between Jews and Christian evangelicals had hoped that years of working together to support Israel would build bridges between the two otherwise distant communities. But a new poll indicates that mistrust and suspicion still run deep, at least on the Jewish side. Only one in five Jewish Americans holds favorable views of those aligned with the Christian right, a category that includes most of Israel’s evangelical supporters … The survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and published April 3, asked Jewish respondents to rate the favorability of several religious groups. Mormons received a 47% favorability rating, Muslims 41.4%; the group described as “Christian Right” was viewed in favorable terms by only 20.9% of Jewish Americans.

US Muslim claims detention and torture by FBI
RT 19 Apr — A Muslim American claims he was detained in the UAE last year and tortured by FBI agents. He says he was beaten, threatened with death and kept in solitary confinement for over three months before they let him go. Naturalized US citizen Yonas Fikre, who is currently seeking asylum in Sweden, says he was interrogated in connection with a terror plot in Portland, Oregon. Fikre says he had attended the same mosque in Portland as a man who has been charged in connection with a plot to detonate a bomb in the city in 2010. The man claims he was arrested last June while in the United Arab Emirates and taken to a prison in Abu Dhabi to be questioned about the activities of the Portland mosque.

Analysis / Opinion

World nations should issue a travel warning to Israel / Zvi Bar’el
Haaretz 18 Apr — Israel is a dangerous preserve and responsible nations should have issued a travel warning for this country long ago, or at least published a detailed guide of what is permitted or forbidden to do here. Which words or sentences induce a warning growl. A kind of dictionary for tourists in which terms such as ‘fly-in’, ‘flotilla’, ‘Palestinian state’, ‘illegal outposts’, ‘apartheid’, ‘racism’, ‘High Court of Justice’, and of course, ‘occupation’ will be underlined in bold red. The guidebook would explain what is likely to cause Israel to bite and which sites the tourist is advised to avoid; where it is permitted for males and females to stay together and where mixed groups may attract stone-throwing; what response a red kaffiyeh around the neck is likely to evince; and what dangers someone wearing red, black and green clothes could face. This is not an extraordinary recommendation. Someone who wants to visit Somalia, Afghanistan, Algeria, Chechnya or Sudan, or merely to go on a safari, knows what he has to wear and what he cannot say.

Israel is stuck in the old war / Nahman Shay
17 Apr — Israel Fighting the Wrong War, Overreacts to Activist ‘Flightilla’ — At the end of the day, it was clear that a mountain had been made out of a molehill. Of the 1,200 activists who were supposed to land in Israel, only several dozen arrived. A few were arrested and a couple released, and the event came to a close. A sigh of relief by government officials — including those within the police and the Interior Ministry, which dealt with the affair — silently brought an end to what had seemed to be a major attack on Israel’s air space and entry point. But to what end? The government used a ton of bricks against the equivalent of a few mosquitoes that threatened — but failed — to sting. It’s been a while since we’ve seen such a disproportionate gap between a threat and the response it draws. Israel refuses to understand that the rules of the game have changed. Even worse, it doesn’t make those rules — the Palestinians do … The goal hasn’t changed — they have their sights set on a Palestinian state on 1967 borders — but the means have changed, and they are out to harm Israel’s international image, legitimacy, economy and civilian affairs as a whole.

Israel on verge of disaster: ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan
PressTV 17 Apr –  Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan says Israel is on the brink of “disaster” and that the Tel Aviv regime faces a “very bad” forecast of its future. “We are on the edge of — I would not say a disaster because that is a bit exaggerated — but we are facing a very bad prognosis of what will happen in the future,” Dagan said in a recent interview with the Jerusalem Post. The former Mossad chief also censured the regime of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Dagan said the Israeli “system is reaching a point where” the regime is “incapable of running” Israel. Dagan has formed an organization that supports changing the Israeli system. (listserv) (archive)

About Kate

American; political science major, M.A.; former ISM volunteer in the West Bank

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